Scientists find strong link between gut bacteria and Parkinson’s disease

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Parkinson’s disease affects around 8 million people worldwide.

This nervous system disorder mainly impacts movement, causing tremors, stiffness, and difficulties with balance and coordination. For centuries, the exact cause of Parkinson’s disease has been a mystery.

Now, new research may provide some answers. Scientists have discovered a potential link between Parkinson’s disease and a particular type of bacteria in the gut.

The Role of Gut Bacteria in Parkinson’s Disease

Our bodies are home to trillions of bacteria. Most of these bacteria are harmless and can even be beneficial.

They help us digest food, fight off harmful bacteria, and even affect our moods. But some types of bacteria can cause or worsen diseases. This seems to be the case with Parkinson’s disease.

In 2021, a research group led by Professor Per Saris from the University of Helsinki found that a type of bacteria called Desulfovibrio might be linked to Parkinson’s disease.

They discovered that people with Parkinson’s disease tended to have more Desulfovibrio bacteria in their guts. What’s more, the higher the number of these bacteria, the worse the disease’s symptoms seemed to be. Researchers from China have found similar results.

The Cause of Parkinson’s Disease: It’s Mostly Environmental

According to Professor Saris, this discovery is significant. For a long time, scientists have known that Parkinson’s disease can run in families, suggesting that genes play a role. However, only about 10% of cases appear to be caused by genetic factors.

The rest are thought to be due to environmental factors, such as exposure to toxins or certain types of bacteria. Saris and his team believe that specific strains of Desulfovibrio bacteria might be one of these environmental causes.

People may come into contact with these bacteria through their diet or other environmental sources, leading to Parkinson’s disease.

The Scientific Evidence: Bacteria and Protein Clumps

The research team wanted to investigate whether these Desulfovibrio bacteria could actually cause Parkinson’s disease. To do this, they turned to a simple worm called Caenorhabditis elegans, a popular model organism in scientific research.

Parkinson’s disease is associated with clumps of a protein called alpha-synuclein in the brain. These clumps can damage nerve cells, leading to the symptoms of the disease.

Saris’s team found that the Desulfovibrio bacteria from Parkinson’s patients could make these protein clumps form in the worms. Furthermore, these protein clumps were larger than the ones formed by Desulfovibrio strains from healthy individuals.

Towards a Cure: Removing Harmful Bacteria

These findings have important implications for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. If certain strains of Desulfovibrio bacteria are indeed causing the disease, it might be possible to alleviate or slow down the symptoms by removing these bacteria from the gut.

Once the bacteria are gone, the harmful protein clumps might stop forming. While more research is needed, this discovery offers a new avenue for developing treatments for Parkinson’s disease.

It also emphasizes the importance of maintaining a healthy gut microbiome for overall brain health.

In conclusion, these exciting findings may revolutionize how we understand and treat Parkinson’s disease. They provide hope that one day we may be able to manage or even prevent this debilitating disease through something as simple as controlling our gut bacteria.

If you care about Parkinson’s disease, please read studies about Vitamin E that may help prevent Parkinson’s disease, and Vitamin D could benefit people with Parkinson’s disease.

For more information about brain health, please see recent studies about new ways to treat Parkinson’s disease, and results showing COVID-19 may be linked to Parkinson’s disease.

The study was published in Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology.

For more information about gut health, please see recent studies about the crucial link between diet, gut health, and the immune system and results showing that Low-gluten, high-fiber diets boost gut health and weight loss.

For more information about gut health, please see recent studies about Navigating inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) with diet and results showing that Mycoprotein in diet may reduce risk of bowel cancer and improve gut health.

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